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review 2018-11-24 16:37
Delicious in Dungeon (manga, vol. 3) by Ryoko Kui, translated by Taylor Engel
Delicious in Dungeon, Vol. 3 - Ryoko Kui,Taylor Engel

This one took me a bit to get my bearings on since I hadn't realized that these guys would appear again and therefore hadn't really mentioned them in my past posts. I believe this volume starts with the same party that the series regulars came across back when they found the treasure insects. They're revived and continue on, only to be killed yet again by fish-men. The series regulars see them, are attacked by a kraken, and make a meal out of kraken parasite meat - kraken, as it turns out, isn't tasty like real squid. They also make a porridge using grain and waterweed collected from fish-men. Then Marcille

uses up all her mana battling an angry Undine. The party comes across an old party member, a female dwarf named Namari. With her help, they eventually defeat and eat the Undine, which restores Marcille's mana. After that, the party wears Giant Frog skins to survive a tentacle choked area.

(spoiler show)

This is still a creative and fascinating series, even if Laios' and Senshi's insistence on figuring out how to eat literally everything they come across in the dungeon is a bit ick. The kraken parasite meal made my skin crawl. (And Laios deserved what he got for eating one of those things raw.)

In this volume, readers learn that Marcille and Falin met in school - Falin was skipping class to read in a real dungeon, which she'd observed enough to learn a lot about (back to the whole "dungeon ecosystem" thing). Marcille, meanwhile, wanted to learn how to create a safe dungeon, a place with all the benefits of a real dungeon (access to goods that can only be grown or found in a dungeon) but without the danger.

As usual, the story got a bit ridiculous, but in ways that made sense. I laughed at the

"okay then, I'll just drink the Undine to fix my problems" part (only these characters would propose drinking or eating the thing that nearly killed them in order to continue on). And the frog suit was silly and gross, but otherwise a believable solution to their paralytic tentacle problem.


(spoiler show)


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-07-19 13:35
Review: The Carver by Jacob Devlin


THE GIRL IN THE RED HOOD has been looking for her mother for six months, searching from the depths of New York’s subways to the heights of its skyscrapers . . .

THE PRINCE looks like he’s from another time entirely, or maybe he’s just too good at his job at Ye Old Renaissance Faire . . .

THE ACTRESS is lighting up Hollywood Boulevard with her spellbinding and strikingly convincing portrayal of a famous fairy. Her name may be big, but her secrets barely fit in one world . . .

Fifteen-year-old Crescenzo never would have believed his father’s carvings were anything more than “stupid toys.” All he knows is a boring life in an ordinary Virginia suburb, from which his mother and his best friend have been missing for years. When his father disappears next, all Crescenzo has left is his goofy neighbor, Pietro, who believes he’s really Peter Pan and that Crescenzo is the son of Pinocchio. What’s more: Pietro insists that they can find their loved ones by looking to the strange collection of wooden figurines Crescenzo’s father left behind.

With Pietro’s help, Crescenzo sets off on an adventure to unite the real life counterparts to his figurines. It’s enough of a shock that they’re actually real, but the night he meets the Girl in the Red Hood, dark truths burst from the past. Suddenly, Crescenzo is tangled in a nightmare where magic mirrors and evil queens rule, and where everyone he loves is running out of time.

***Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***


What’s Good: an decent twist on what’s becoming a clichéd, stale idea. Fantasy characters migrating to the Real World and having to return to save everything is nothing new. Author Jacob Devlin invests the tropes with a bit of new life, which is all you can ask for. He also works all the loose ends of the plot into a neat little package; at about 65% or so you’re all caught up. Chapters are short, making for fast and easy reading.


What’s Bad: all the inconsistency. The setting seems lifted- or should I say ‘inspired by’- practically every existing Disney cartoon. It’s more mish-mash than mashup; all manner of fictional and historical characters- including Merlin, Kaa the Snake, Dr. Frankenstein and Mulan- come and go in Fairyland but no rhyme or reason as to how they got there or how it all works- especially at the finale when some of the characters end up in yet another fantasy realm. It’s all there to support the story without consequence and you’re just going to have to roll with it.


Dialogue- like most everything about the book, it seems to be kind of all over the place, almost like it was written freeform. One moment characters are speaking proper, stilted language and the next they’re saying ‘wanna, gonna, ain’t, buddy…’


Typical of a mish-mash, the characters exhibit some of the dumbest behavior at the worst times simply to advance the plot. And it’s pretty tiresome. This kind of stuff isn’t heroic- it’s idiotic, and far too often a crutch authors lean on. How about smarter, more capable villains?


There’s also the plot device of telling the story out of phase, alternating between Real World Now for the current situation and Fairyland Three Years Ago or Fairyland Twenty-Five Years Ago to reveal the backstory. Just when you’d be in the flow of one scenario you’re thrown into another, breaking up the rhythm. And sometimes it’d take several chapters to return to a setting, so you may have forgotten a thing or two and have to go back.


What’s Left: some badly executed good ideas. Nuggets of a story that need sharpening up, otherwise this isn’t a Young Adult story but a Middle Grade one.


2.5/5 stars.

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text 2016-07-19 11:47
Reading Progress: Pg 224 of 319


And now- the rest of the plot...


Pinocchio, Alice, Peter Pan & Wendy Darling manage to steal the magic mirror from the Ivory Queen's castle, nay- her very bedchamber.  But of course they not only wake her from her magic slumber but burn down the whole damn castle in the process.  No biggie; a good villain always has a backup plan... like a hidden chamber down in a mine or something.


Violet is happy to see the kids coming home; Gretel was afraid, so she stayed behind with Violet, who cheered up with stories and such.  The kids bring home the prize, Violet grants their wish and sends to the Real World where they'll become adults.  Just don't tell anyone who you really are- because people fear what they don't understand. 


Suddenly the Ivory Queen emerges from the mirror.  Violet protects Gretel while they do their dialogue about all the eeeevil things the Queen's done and the stupid things Violet's done- like sending children to steal a magic mirror- and they start magicking each other.  The Queen gets suctioned back into the mirror and starts pleading to Gretel for help, who clearly hadn't been paying attention to a damned thing and due to her innate goodness tries to help the Queen, getting sucked into the mirror right along with her.


Violet has no choice but to rally the Order of the Bell- the secret society that protects Fairyland.  Roll call: the Beast, Merlin (yep), Captain Hook, some old woman with a blunderbuss and... Mulan.  Violet already knew what Hansel was up to, so they confront him but the Queen's got her hooks too deep into him and he overwhelms the group save for Mulan, who stole one of his magic darts and zapped herself into the Real World.


Hansel's almost finished; just one more victim and the Queen'll be ready.  The mirror shows him who the next target is... really?  No!  Not them!  Anyone but them!  (Here's a hint: one of the dwarves walks in and sees the target so Hansel zaps them to the Real World).  Now even Hansel's not sure he wants to keep doing this anymore.



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text 2016-07-19 01:59
Reading Progress: Pg 104 of 319


Rosana, Pietro and Enzo talk more and come to an understanding; Pietro's shadow steals two of the figurines and takes off.  Pietro knows where it's headed- Maryland.


Fairyland Three Years Ago: The dwarves ask Violet for help; she realizes the Ivory Queen's got her hooks into Hansel and they decide to destroy the mirror.


Inside the mirror, Hansel is communing with the Queen.  She flat out states she's feeding him darkness and dark power, but he doesn't care- this is how it should be.  Suddenly things start shaking and rumbling; Hansel zaps out of the mirror to find Prince Liam & the dwarves pounding on it.  Chaos ensues.  Liam's a good swordsman- he's been trained by Mulan, y'know- but remains on the defensive.  He's actually never killed anything and has the rep of being a softie.  Hansel sticks him with one of those magic darts- courtesy of the Queen- and he falls, then disappears.


Scared shitless, the dwarves cower and Hansel uses his newfound power to charm them into serving him.  So I guess all the players are in place now.


So looks like this is an Ever After ripoff or something, ok- "Inspired By..."  But it's not so much mashup as mish-mash.  Whatever he thinks is cool or offbeat gets jammed into the story, mostly as references, but still knocks you out of the moment.


And I still don't really care.  Anyone ever seen this movie: Avengers Grimm?  This book feels a lot like that- Jim C. Hines meets Roger Corman.

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text 2016-07-18 19:58
Reading Progress: Pg 21 of 319


Flashback to three years ago; now we've got Hansel, Snow White, and a few dwarves having dinner. Gretel's been missing for over 20 years, the dwarves are losing their mine so Hansel offers to buy it, thinking Gretel might be lost down there.


The owner refuses to sell, citing a discovery of an ancient evil in its depths. Hansel blithely ignores this info and drugs him, at which point the man disappears. Ok, makes sense to me.

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